Crossing the Finish Line
TSFM Ambassador’s Boston Marathon Experience Pt. III: Contributed by Paige Govey, a 2018 Ambassador for The San Francisco Marathon. Photo Credit: Brian Fluharty
I don’t remember much of my wait in Athlete’s Village. I do remember feeling fear, nerves, and jealousy of people who had ponchos. I thought of a time at an amusement park, when I was in middle school and it had started raining, and my mother made us all wear matching ponchos. I was mortified. I hated everything about that poncho, but man, at this moment, I wished I had that poncho… or my mom, honestly.
After doing the quick jog from Athlete’s Village, I stood with the other runners in the pouring rain, waiting to start. I bumped into a man who really concerned me, as he told me how he wasn’t cold, while visibly shivering. That was when I knew that this whole thing might not be a good idea. I told him to get a warm-up jog in, and said a little prayer in my mind that he’d be okay.
Once I got to the starting line, the realization that I’d have to remove my warm clothes hit me pretty hard. I remember feeling scared, like I might actually freeze if I took them off! Looking around at the tons of other runners in shorts (and some even in tank tops), I regained my confidence. I took a few quick breaths and peeled the sweatpants off. “It’s cold, but I’m tough,” were the words running through my mind.
As we started, the announcer was making light of the whole situation with some funny jokes, which was much appreciated. One thing he said that stuck with me for about half a mile was when he noticed someone wearing sunglasses: “Crossing the start now, someone in SUNGLASSES! He’s hopeful!” “Hopeful” became my next mantra. Hopeful I would stick to my plan, hopeful I wouldn’t end up in a med tent, and hopeful I’d finish.
My attitude throughout this race was very “survival mode,” as dramatic as that might sound. It felt like we had all set out to do something crazy, but I couldn’t help but smile. Runners are so strong, and this race was a testament to that. The complaints I heard on the starting line were few and far between, and everyone was nothing less than encouraging throughout the entire 26.2 miles. Running is so much more than a sport. It’s a community, and a lifestyle. Those who choose to participate are some of the strongest, kindest, and encouraging people I know.
The “all in this together” attitude was strong – I really didn’t even recognize what we’d all accomplished until it was over and people who hadn’t run were telling me just how tough I am. It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around because I did what anyone else running did that day: I showed up, did my best and got the job done.
My best advice from all of this? Don’t dwell on what’s perfect. Put in the work before the race, and chances are that you’re going to be fine. There’s no perfect outfit or perfect weather forecast. Things can, and sometimes will, go wrong, but you always have the choice to show up with what you have and make the best of it. A smile will carry you pretty far when there’s 26.2 miles ahead of you, no matter the conditions.